Most crimes for cruelty to animals are prosecuted under Florida Statute Section Section 828.12. Under Florida’s animal cruelty statute, a person commits the crime if he or she “unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner.”
Animal cruelty crimes often involve an accusation that the defendant confined an animal without sufficient food, water or exercise. Other, common examples of animal cruelty include allegations of abuse or neglect involving dog or cock fighting, locking an animal in a vehicle, or not properly caring for a sick or injured animal.
People often ask: “Who can I contact about a suspected incident of animal cruelty?” Many of these tips that an animal has been abused, neglected, or otherwise victimized are reported to local law enforcement agencies, local animal control agencies, the SPCA, the Humane Society, or Hillsborough County Pet Resources. Tips about suspected cases of animal cruelty are often made anonymously.
Section 828.12(3), F.S., provides that if a person commits multiple acts of animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against an animal, the defendant may be charged with a separate offense for each such act. A person who commits animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against more than one animal may be charged with a separate offense for each animal such cruelty was committed upon.
Attorneys for Animal Cruelty Charges in Tampa, FL
If you were charged with any type of animal cruelty crime, including aggravated animal cruelty, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL.
We represent clients on a variety of serious criminal offenses in the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Pasco County, and Polk County, Florida.
Contact us to find out more about how animal cruelty are reported under Florida Statute Section 828.13. Other related crimes can include animal poisoning under Section 828.08, animal confinement and abandonment under Section 828.13, and animal fighing under Section 828.122.
Contact us to find out more about the different ways the crime can be charged, the potential penalties for each offense, and the best ways to fight for a dismissal of the charges.
Call (813) 250-0500 today to discuss your case.
Penalties in Florida for Cruelty to Animals Crimes
In most cases, the crime of animal cruelty is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Although a first-degree misdemeanor is typically punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, the animal cruelty statute authorizes a fine of not more than $5,000 as provided in Section 775.083(1)(g), F.S.
Aggravated Animal Cruelty Crimes in Florida
A person commits aggravated animal cruelty, if he or she intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done.
If the criminal offense is charged as “aggravated animal cruelty,” then the offense is charged as a third-degree felony. Although a third-degree felony normally authorizes a fine of up to $5,000, the animal cruelty statute authorizes a fine of up to $10,000. Also, if a person intentionally trips, fells, ropes, or lassos the legs of a horse for entertainment or sport, then the offense is charged as a third-degree felony.
As provides in Section Section 921.0022(3)(c), aggravated animal cruelty is a Level 3 offense on the Offense Severity Ranking Chart of the Code that results in sixteen (16) sentencing points being assigned to the offense of aggravated animal cruelty for purposes of calculating the lowest permissible sentence.
Under Section 828.12(5), a person convicted of aggravated animal cruelty, where the finder of fact determines that the violation included the knowing and intentional torture or torment of an animal which injured, mutilated, or killed the animal, must be ordered to pay a minimum mandatory fine of $2,500 and undergo psychological counseling or complete an anger management treatment program.
Under Section 828.12(2)(a), a person “convicted” of a second or subsequent conviction of aggravated animal cruelty must pay a minimum mandatory fine of $5,000 and serve a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of six (6) months. Under Section 828.12(2)(b), the person is not eligible for parole, control release, or any form of early release, and must serve 100 percent of the court-imposed sentence.
Florida’s Definition of “Animal”
Most allegations of cruelty involve pets such as dogs and cats. Other allegations involve livestock such as pigs, cattle, and chicken. Under the statutory scheme for animal cruelty charges, the term “animal” is defined to include every “living dumb creature.”
In Wilkerson v. State, 401 So. 2d 1110, 1112 (1981), the Florida Supreme Court held that the “animal” definition necessarily “excludes human beings from the commonly understood definition of animals.”
This article was last updated on Friday, June 1, 2018.